The 2017 East Coast Watercross Tour by Jet Renu has outdone themselves again with a spectacular event in Watkins Glen, NY for Rounds 7 & 8 of their tour! Nestled between the hills at the bottom of Lake Seneca the race site itself couldn’t have been more picturesque. With over 200 race entries for the weekend – 106 for Round 7 and 102 for Round 8 – making for 15 race classes plus a specialty mashup class per day and freestyle on Sunday, it’s hard to believe this is just a regional race series. Since taking over the Region 8 series last year, Christopher Yates and his team have worked hard to make the series one everyone wants to participate in from as far away as California – seriously, there were racers from California in Watkins Glen, New York racing this past weekend. How cool is that?
The East Coast Watercross runs a conventional two moto system for each round. Each moto consists of an average of 10 laps giving the racers plenty of course time, especially for those who race more than one class!
Round 7 saw its biggest class of the day in X2 Open with 12 racers on the line. Yes, the Kawasaki X2 skis manufactured back in the late 80’s and early 90’s that you rarely see anymore are alive and well in Region 8. The class had two new racers to the series, Danny and Lauri Ortega, all the way from California and they dominated the X2 class with Danny going 1-1 and Lauri 2-2 closely followed by Tyler Lynch with a 3-3 for the round. Sunday’s Round 8 was a bit of a shake up with Lauri Ortega taking over those first place positions for Moto 1 and Moto 2! Lynch won a hard fought second place overall going 3-2 while Danny went 2-3 resulting in his third place overall finish.
The second largest class for Round 7 was Expert Sport Spec with 11 entries. Anthony Coursen took the overall win with two impressive first place finishes on his Sea-Doo HX. Coursen was closely followed by Danny Ortega on his Kawasaki X2 with 2-3 finishes and Bill Beers 4-4 finishes on his Yamaha ‘Blaster. Round 8 saw more of the same for the Top 2 overall finishers with Coursen going 1-1 again followed by Danny Ortega with a 2-2, but the clash for third place overall was between Morgan Beers and Eric Degler who tied for third but ultimately was won by Morgan Beers for her fifth place finish in Moto 2 over Degler’s 6th place finish. That’s three different skis sitting in the Top 3 positions for Sport Spec. Clearly there isn’t a dominating ski brand here!
Expert Ski Lites class consisted of 10 racers including two pros who came out to race on Saturday. It was Rick Sherker who took the overall with 1-1 finishes but the battle was for second place where Mike Aleese squeaked out an overall score of 5 to Mike Kelberer’s 6 to take second overall. Sunday’s Round 8 was where Expert Ski Lites created some excitement for racers and spectators alike. With the addition of Jimmy Wilson for Round 8, the guys decided to shake things up a bit. By his own decision, Jimmy Wilson started Moto 1 with a dead engine and worked his way up through the pack to an impressive second place finish behind Rick Sherker with Billy Beers Jr. on his heels in third.
After some conversation, Sherker and Wilson decided to not only do a dead engine start but wait until the whole pack turned the first buoy before leaving the starting gate. This created tremendous excitement as Sherker and Wilson made their way through the pack throughout the moto to ultimately finish with Sherker in first and Wilson in second. Mike Kelberer and Billy Beers Jr. put up quite the fight to hold on to their first and second place positions throughout the moto, but in the end Kelberer came away with a third overall followed closely by Billy Beers Jr in 4th.
Novice Sport Spec had a notable number of racers on the line totaling 10 racers for Round 7. The incredible Chase Hyslop was unstoppable on his Sea-Doo HX and went 1-1 taking first place overall. Logan Hyslop joined in the racing fun and in his first race took a second place right behind his younger brother Chase! Logan went 2-5 on Saturday and finished with a second overall while Rylee O’Flaherty went 6-2 setting her in third place overall for the round. Joseph Dellaselva who finished in 7th place on Saturday was not going home empty handed on Sunday as he took first place in both motos giving him the first place overall position for Round 8. Chase Hyslop was able to hold onto to second place in both Motos followed by Rylee O’Flaherty going 3-3 to give them second and third place overall.
Expert Ski Lites class wasn’t the only class the ski racers decided among themselves to change up this past weekend. In Expert Ski GP Rick Sherker prevailed in Round 7 with a 1-1 taking the first place overall on Saturday followed by Mike Kelberer with a 2-2 and Billy Shaw with a 3-3. On Sunday, Rick and Jimmy Wilson chose to race their Stock skis and forgo racing their actual GP skis. Billy Shaw, racing his Limited ski in this class, who made taking the holeshot look easy in both motos. In Moto 1, Shaw was eventually chased down by Sherker and Wilson who took first and second. In Moto 2, things got interesting as Sherker, Wilson and Shaw decided to use the makeup buoy (traditionally used if you miss a buoy mid-course) to create a joker lap – this is something done in Motocross where sometime during the Moto each racer has to go out and around the joker buoy once. Talk about excitement!
It was Shaw who holeshotted and decided to take the joker buoy on his first lap which proved to be devastating as he dropped to third place behind Sherker and Wilson when he reentered the course. On lap 2, Wilson took his turn at the joker buoy and lost his second place position to Shaw. By the third lap, Sherker had a large enough lead that he was able to take the joker buoy and still hold onto his first place position as Shaw eventually lost his second place position to Wilson, ending with Sherker in first, Wilson in second and Shaw in third. The overall for Round 8 went to Sherker in first followed by Wilson in second and Shaw in third.
Rounds 7 and 8 also brought a chance to see what happens when you put a Sport racer on an X2 and vice versa with a specialty class referred to as the X2/Sport Mash-Up. Six teams took on the challenge where X2 racers and Sport racers teamed up to race each other’s skis for one moto each; the best team finishes determined the overall winners. When the horn blew Saturday, X2 racers jumped on their teammates Sport ski with a running start from the beach for their 5 lap race. The X2 racers navigated the Sport skis better than expected with Glenn Ferraro taking the win followed by Teri Burke and Tyler Lynch.
On Sunday it was the Sport racers turn to give it a go on the X2’s. This proved to be more of a challenge from the start as Billy Beers Jr was tackled by his own dad, Bill Beers as soon as their feet hit the water! Anthony Coursen jumped in as well with a sneak attack on Bill Beers before any of them even got near the skis. Once everyone was able to get on the ski and on the course more excitement ensued as countless falls occurred and buoys were missed. Eventually Bill Beers crossed the finish line first followed by Scott McMaster and Billy Beers Jr. A great laugh was had by all and the stories will entertain us for decades. The X2/Sport Mash Up winning team went to Glenn Ferraro and Scott McMaster.
Even though the races were the highlight of the weekend it was not all about the racing. The East Coast Watercross Tour by Jet Renu set up a raffle of Jet Renu products that raised $470 over the weekend for local Veterans through American Legion and let’s not forget the racer’s BBQ on Saturday night! Bill Beers supplied tons of meat and manned the grill while many racers donated everything from side items to outstanding desserts for what made for an amazing evening with great food and great friends. Looking to join in on the fun yourself? There are two rounds left of The East Coast Watercross Tour in Niantic, CT, September 23rd & 24th. These rounds are your last chance on the east coast to qualify for the IJSBA World Finals in Lake Havasu, AZ! Be sure to check out www.eastcoastwatercross.com for the complete list of classes and results.